Alexander Ovechkin is one of the most exciting players in the NHL to watch. He has great skill that helps him succeed as one of the leagues best scorers around and he has a big body that helps him control the situations he is in. The problem with Ovechkin is that the last couple of seasons have not been kind to him. He is not a bad player, but he does not seem to be as good, or as impacting as he was when he first started in the NHL.
His first 5 seasons in the NHL were fantastic ones, where four out of those five seasons he had scored 50 plus goals and obtained 100 plus points. In his best season he scored 65 goals and had 112 points. His least productive season to date has him at a score of 46 goals and 92 points! With these great stats Ovechkin has managed to get a few awards to add to his mantle. Ovechkin has won; the Calder Memorial Trophy (Rookie of the year) in 2006, the Art Ross (most points) in 2008, Maurice Rocket Richard Trophy (most goals) in 2008 and 2009, and finally the Hart Memorial (MVP) in 2008 and 2009. Ovechkin also has a great playoff history and although he has not won a Stanley cup yet he had an amazing series versus his rival Sydney Crosby.
Do not get me wrong the last two seasons were not terrible, Ovechkin had 32 goals and 85 points in 2010-11 and 38 goals and 65 points! He has not had a season under 30 goals yet and I am pretty sure that every team would like to have him on theirs. The thing with Overchkin is that he seems to have lost his edge, his dominance and his energy, Ovechkin has not been the same these past two seasons. So what has happened? What has thrown Ovechkin off of his game from being one of the most dominant to a great player, but a bit more tame out there on the ice?
With Ovie the Caps were one of the strongest teams offensively making all of these records and everyone (almost everyone) getting excited to watch the next Capitals game, what could possibly get in the way of a juggernaut in the regular season scoring and the standing? There were aspects of this team that could be considered weak such as goaltending, Jose Theodore was shaky at times to the point where the Capitals had to rely on their back-up Semyon Valamov and the defense was weak at times, but with the offence they had overlooked any minor issues. Funny enough the Montreal Canadiens could be one of the teams and one of the reasons why you might blame for the sudden halt in the Washington Capitals production and winning.
The 2009-2010 was the Washington Capitals time to shine and shine they did in the regular season, having the most points in the whole league and coming off of a game seven 2nd round loss to the soon to be Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburg Penguins in the 2009 playoffs, many people thought it was the Capitals turn to compete for the cup. Unfortunately for the Capitals they hit an immediate brick wall in the Montreal Canadiens and Jaroslav Halak. The Capitals were leading 3 games to 1 and it seemed like the Caps were going to finish off the Habs in game five once and for all. Then it happened that the Canadiens gained momentum from Halak and started to shutdown the Caps offense and would help take down the Captials and ultimately resulting in elimination in game seven, it was unbelievable. The Capitals who were the best team that year, but got shut down by a great goaltending and a defensive style that would not budge in the first round of the playoffs. In the first four games the Capitals out scored the Habs 19-12, but they only scored 3 goals in the last three games.
What basically happened after that was that the Capitals changed their system to compete with a team like the Canadiens and that made the Caps more “boring” and just another average team. This had a crippling effect over Oveckins play because focusing on more defensive strategies started to become part of the Caps game plans. Soon enough Bruce Boudreau the coach would get fired and Dale Hunter would take his place. Hunter had a tough coaching style and seemed as though it affected Ovie a bit during that season. Hunter would leave the Caps after that season and Adam Oates would become the current Capitals coach.
Under Oates system the Caps are so far out of a playoff spot in the shortened season. Oveckins numbers are decent at 9 goals and 20 points (since Monday) but once again he is not as impacting as he used to be. So what can be done to spark Ovie to become a more dominant player once again? Well Capitals fans and the team will not agree with this, but trading him might be the answer. It would be really hard to trade him with a 9.5 cap hit up till the 2021 season with a no trade clause. In 2014 he will have to give the Washington management a list of ten teams he will not go to, so that could make trading him even harder. Unfortunately a change of scenery might get Oveckin playing the way he used to and be more of a dominant player. What ever the problem is I hope it changes soon, frankly I was not a huge fan of his, but to see someone who was great for those 5 seasons and to look good but not as good as Crosby, Malkin and Stamkos, I really hope Ovechkin can somehow find that old spark soon, we will just have to wait and see won’t we.